Higher education in Poland


Education system in Poland

Education in Poland is compulsory and starts at the age of 6 and goes till 18. The primary school starts at the age of 6 and lasts for 6 years. Next step is the high school (gymnasium) which takes 3 years to complete. After this pupils have to take an obligatory exam to determine the upper secondary level school they will attend. There are several alternatives from then on. The most common secondary schools are: liceum (a typical high school – 3 years ) or technikum (technical high school - 4 years). Both end with an exam for secondary school certificate – matriculation certificate (it’s called “matura”), and may be followed by several forms of upper education leading to a Bachelor’s, Master’s or doctoral degree.

Higher education in Poland

Higher education institutions in Poland can be public or private. Public schools are financed fully or partially by the state. Private schools are fully financed from private funds. Universities and medical academies are always public. There are approximately 400 higher education schools in Poland. These include Public Universities, Technical Universities, Medical Universities, Academies of theatre and film, Agricultural Universities, Pedagogical Universities, Academies of Music, Academies of Arts, Theological Universities, Universities of Economics, Maritime Universities and Military Universities. In order to get into an institution of higher education an applicant must hold the secondary school certificate. Some universities organize competitive entrance examinations, others use ranking procedures based on the final marks listed in the secondary school certificate and some schools admit all applicants (this is more likely for private schools).

The higher education in Poland refers to the Bologna Process, the system which is present in all European Union member countries. This allows to specify three cycles of studies, which base on the ECTS – European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System. The system helps students to pass the courses in different countries. Student has to get 60 credits per year to complete the academic year. Polish educational institutions participate in international student exchange programmes such as Socrates/Erasmus and other individual bilateral agreements pursued by particular schools. All these programmes aim at developing better relations between Polish and foreign institutions of higher education.

Structure of studies in Poland

First cycle studies last 3 years and after completing them you get the Bachelor’s (or Engineer’s) degree (in Polish – Licencjat). To get the title a student needs to collect from 180 to 240 ECTS credits. After obtaining this degree you can continue education within the second cycle or finish your studies and begin to work.

Second cycle lasts not longer than 2 years and by completing it one gets a title of Master (or equivalent, depending on the field of studies). Master’s degree allows students to continue their education and applying for the PhD studies or begin to work. To accomplish second cycle one has to get 90-120 ECTS credits.

Third cycle studies last from 3 to 4 years and can be accomplished by the students with Master’s degree. In order to obtain a doctoral degree in Poland, student has to pass doctoral examination and write and defend dissertation in front of the committee.

There are also long cycle studies, which last from 4,5 to 6 years, depending of the field of studies. After completion one gets a Master’s degree. To do it you need to gain 270-360 ECTS credits. Long cycle studies refer to the following fields of studies: medicine, dental medicine, medical analysis, pharmacy, veterinary, psychology, acting, law, canon law, art conservation and restoration and photography.

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Lectures and classes

Study programmes include: lectures, classes, seminars, laboratory classes and discussion groups. Lectures are attended by up to several hundred students and smaller seminars where students are expected to play an active part in discussions and formulate their own views or use their knowledge in practice. Classes, which compose of groups of 25-30 students, are designed to support interaction between students and aim at conversation with the tutor. The purpose is to help you improve your critical thinking and transferable skills.

Grading scale

To complete a semester successfully a student must receive passing notes for all examinations. Below you can find Polish grading scale:

  • 2.0 – unclassified, D (you fail)
  • 3.0 – pass mark, C
  • 3.5 – C+
  • 4.0 – B
  • 4.5 – B+
  • 5.0 – A

Academic Year and Vacations

The academic year is divided into two semesters (winter and summer). The majority of study programmes start on October 1st.  Polish universities have a two-week winter break (January-February) and a three-month summer holidays (July-September). Apart from the short-term and intensive introductory courses, universities usually do not arrange any classes during the vacation (if you would like to study during the summer holidays, please contact us on contact@studyfun.pl. Private language schools offer programmes for students almost all year round.


In order to graduate, students are required to:

  • pass a performance assessment for all subjects, integrated placements  and practical work sessions, and pass all examinations covered by the study programme for a given field of study,
  • present, at an appointed date, a diploma project, and obtain the pass mark for the project,
  • pass the diploma examination.

Upon graduation, the student receives a diploma of completion of studies in a specific field of study, together with a diploma suplement (a document that accompanies a higher education diploma, providing a standardized description of the nature, level, context, content and status of the studies completed by its holder).

If you still have some questions, don’t hesitate to contact us contact@studyfun.pl.



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